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McCoy: Someones watching
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They rushed at [Stephen] and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Acts 7:57b-58
(New Living Translation)

The crowd was boisterous, cheering for the team from the bleachers. The players were doing an outstanding job of making a name for themselves as they commanded the field from one end to the other. Then all of sudden, we heard crashes on the metal stands like rocks...wait, they were rocks, being hurled at us from vehement youth behind the stands. What had we done that was so wrong? Was it merely that our players were outscoring their players? Would they have done that at anyone? Some adults began hurling insults and shouts at the young boys who were throwing rocks. I felt hated for something that was not wrong, for liking the winning team.

The day had not gone as Stephen had probably envisioned when he woke up that morning.

He had met, prayed, sang and ate with the disciples, and then "being full of the Holy Spirit" he gives a detailed account - rather accusatory, at that - of Jesus' death to the Jewish leaders and authorities.

They listened as long as they could, but when he started talking about Jesus being equal with God, standing at the Father's right hand, they couldn't bear it any longer. In fit of rage, they attacked, dragging him out of the city to stone him.

After all, that's what they were commanded to do by Hebrew law when someone made blasphemous statements about God.

A young man in the crowd, a student of the great teacher Gamaliel, was standing by. The angry mob began to shed their coats and wraps, dropping them at his feet.

I wonder what he thought as he watched young Stephen die at the hands of the angry mob? Did Stephen's words echo in his mind like a broken record as he tried to sleep that night? "Lord, do not charge them with this sin."

What words of forgiveness from the mouth of the one dying from stones thrown in anger and rage. Instead of anger, Stephen showed compassion and forgiveness for his attackers. How could this be?

We have a choice when we are accused either falsely or out of anger. We can retaliate with like words, or we can pray for the forgiveness of those who attack us. Stephen prayed for his attackers. Jesus prayed for those who crucified him.

Oswald Chambers once said that every choice that we make is a choice for good or for evil. There will always be those watching us who will be affected by our decisions and reactions.

How will you choose to react today as you remember that someone is watching you?

Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at